Adding Diversity to the Teaching Workforce
"The use of alternate routes gives promise of increasing the representation of minorities in the nation's teaching force," Dr. C. Emily Feistritzer, president of the National Center for Education Information, told a Congressional education subcommittee. The profession currently is predominantly female and white, with 1996 data showing males comprise just one-quarter of all teachers and African-Americans just 7.3 percent.
When California recently added a large number of teachers to comply with a K-3 class size reduction initiative, almost half (48 percent) of the approximately 10,000 new teachers certified through the state's alternative routes were members of ethnic groups under-represented in the state's teaching force. According to Feistritzer:
- New Jersey's alternative certification route has been the biggest source of qualified minority teachers.
- In Texas, 41 percent of alternatively certified teachers are minority.
- Twenty-nine percent of those entering teaching through the Troops to Teachers program are from a minority group.
Feistritzer noted that teachers with alternative certification also were more interested in teaching where the demand for new teachers is greatest: in urban and rural areas. One in four (24 percent) graduates from Troops to Teachers is teaching in an inner-city school. In California, New Jersey, and Texas, most teachers with alternative certification are trained and teach in urban and rural areas.